Former US President Donald Trump emerged as the clear winner in the Conservative Political Action Conference's (CPAC) presidential straw poll.
The straw poll, which received responses from more than 2,500 conference attendees, found that 59 percent back Trump as the 2024 Republican Presidential nominee, according to The Hill.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis finished in a distant second with 28 percent support, making him the only other prospective candidate to notch double-digit support. In last year’s straw poll, DeSantis notched 21 percent support.
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo finished in third place, with just 2 percent support.
The straw poll confirmed that Trump remains overwhelmingly popular among the GOP’s conservative base and would likely run away with the 2024 Republican presidential nomination should he mount a comeback bid.
85 percent of respondents said they would support Trump again in 2024 if he launches another campaign for the White House.
The straw poll also reaffirmed DeSantis’ growing star power among conservatives. Asked whom they would support in a hypothetical Republican presidential primary if Trump is not on the ballot, nearly two-thirds of participants — 61 percent — chose DeSantis.
Pompeo tied for second place with Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr. Both scored 6 percent in the straw poll.
While Trump has not publicly confirmed if he is planning to run again for president in the 2024 election, he has hinted at such a run several times.
In a radio interview in September, Trump said that the only thing that could prevent him from running would be “a bad call from a doctor or something”.
Before that, in an interview with Fox News, Trump said that he has already made up his mind regarding a 2024 run, but couldn’t explicitly declare his intentions because of “campaign financing” issues.
In January, Trump again hinted at a presidential run when he said in a video that he will be the “45th and 47th” President of the United States.
Trump addressed the CPAC conference on Saturday, and responded to criticism that was levelled at him earlier this week after he described Russian President Vladimir Putin's actions in Ukraine as "genius" and "pretty savvy."
"The Russian attack on Ukraine is appalling. We are praying for the proud people of Ukraine. God bless them all," said Trump, who praised Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, calling him "brave" as he stays in Kyiv.
Trump did say he think that Putin is “smart” but also that American and NATO leaders are dumb. He opined that President Joe Biden’s weakness and the failures in the Afghanistan withdrawal are what prompted Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine.
“I have no doubt that President Putin made his decision to ruthlessly attack Ukraine only after watching the pathetic withdrawal from Afghanistan, where the military was taken out first,” he stated. “Our soldiers were killed and American hostages, plus 85 billion dollars worth of the finest equipment anywhere in the world were left behind.”